COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - The balmy South Carolina campaign trail may be getting unusually frosty for GOP Sen. John McCain as rival Republican strategists offer fresh criticisms of his campaign's tactics.
Over the last week, McCain's South Carolina "Truth Squad" has arranged multiple conference calls to defend its candidate from negative campaigning.
But opponents say his campaign has been exaggerating the attacks against him - taking advantage of the ghosts of 2000 in a bid to win sympathy from the media and voters.
In 2000, McCain was the target of a whisper campaign alleging that he fathered a black child while married to his wife, Cindy. The truth was McCain and his wife had adopted their daughter, Bridget, from Bangladesh.
In 2008, the Arizona senator's staff is "trying to make McCain the victim," said senior Thompson adviser Rich Galen.
"But 'the victim of what?' is, I think, a legitimate question. His victimhood is kind of empty," Galen said.
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– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby